Sunday 25 February 2018

Top guns Sanchez and Cazorla set to miss Greek trip

Alexis Sanchez is expected to miss Arsenal's vital Champions League game at Olympiakos next week
Alexis Sanchez is expected to miss Arsenal's vital Champions League game at Olympiakos next week

Jamie Holland

Arsenal expect to be without Alexis Sanchez for their vital Champions League game at Olympiakos next week, with Santi Cazorla also a serious doubt for the must-win match.

Sanchez limped out of Arsenal's 1-1 draw at Norwich City with a hamstring injury. He will be assessed later in the week, but even a minor hamstring strain would entail an absence of three or four weeks for the Chilean forward, ruling him out of the Christmas games.

Cazorla was kicked on the knee by Gary O'Neil, leading Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger to describe him as playing "on one leg" in the second half at Carrow Road.

The extent of the Spanish midfielder's injury is still unclear but Wenger rates him as unlikely to make the trip to Greece next week.

Arsenal go to Athens needing to win by two goals, or by a high-scoring one-goal margin, if they are to progress to the Champions League last-16.

Before then, they host Sunderland at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon, hoping for their first Premier League win in four games.


There was better news about French centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who was substituted early on against Norwich because of a hip problem. Arsenal expect him to return to training later this week, putting him in contention for the Sunderland game and then the trip to Greece.

The injuries to Cazorla and Sanchez mean that Arsenal go into the most important month of their season so far without much of their attacking firepower, but there is some good news for Wenger.

Theo Walcott is on his way back from injury and hopes to be ready to play against Olympiakos on December 9, or even Sunderland.

Aaron Ramsey played for 72 minutes against Norwich after one month out with another hamstring injury, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Ramsey at Carrow Road, also after one month out, and should move swiftly into contention for a starting place.

Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck are still long-term absentees, along with midfielders Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin.

David Silva is set to start his first Manchester City game in nearly two months, with manager Manuel Pellegrini expected to field a strong side against Hull in the League Cup quarter-finals tonight.

Silva picked up an ankle injury in the 6-1 thrashing of Newcastle on October 3 but came off the bench for the final 15 minutes against Southampton last Saturday and has been pencilled in to start at the Etihad Stadium.

City still have a number of injury concerns but Sergio Aguero, who went off in the second half against Southampton, has played down worries about his fitness, tweeting yesterday that it was just "a harmless bump on the heel".

Pellegrini said: "Maybe we are going to make some changes but not so many as [Pablo] Zabaleta, [Vincent] Kompany, [Eliaquim] Mangala, [Samir] Nasri are all out of this game. It is important to be focused now game by game to try to have consistency."

Hull's 13-game unbeaten record in all competitions was ended by Derby last Friday, but manager Steve Bruce still believes his Championship side can pick up a third Premier League scalp in the competition, having already knocked out Swansea and Leicester.

Following their win over Manchester United in the previous round and FA Cup victory at Manchester City last season, Middlesbrough have been warned about over-confidence by manager Aitor Karanka going into their quarter-final with Everton, who are set to include Leighton Baines in their squad for the first time this season at the Riverside.

James McCarthy and Gareth Barry are expected to be rested after sustaining injuries in the 3-3 draw at Bournemouth.

Sheffield Wednesday will take more than 4,000 fans to the Britannia Stadium as Carlos Carvalhal's side seek to repeat the kind of display with which they beat Arsenal 3-0 in the last round.

Middlesbrough v Everton, Live, Sky Sports 1, 7.45

Irish Independent

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